Bealach nam Bo

A brief History

the peninsula

Applecross was, and still remains, one of the most remote areas of Scotland.  Until the coast road was completed in 1975, the Peninsula was split north and south.  Access to Applecross was either by the Bealach nam Bo (Pass of the Cattle) or by sea.  The only access to the, then, thriving crofting and fishing townships scattered along the west and north coasts was by footpath or by boat.  By the time that the coast road was completed, it was too late for many.

In 1850 nearly 3,000 people lived in the scattered townships of Applecross. Now there are less than 300. The clearances were responsible for some of the depopulation, but lack of local opportunities and work also contributed.  The remains of previously thriving communities can be seen in many areas along the coast.

the arrival of Christianity

Clachan Church

Applecross was one of the earliest Christian settlements in Scotland, second only to Iona.  In the year 673 ad the Irish Monk Maelrubha founded this Christian settlement on the land between the river and Beinn A'Chlachain.  He declared the surrounding area a Sanctuary, and even today, Applecross is known as A'Chomraich - the Sanctuary.  For fifty nine years, Maelrubha established his monastery and, using Applecross as his base, spread the gospel from Applecross to Lochcarron and into Easter Ross. Unfortunately, nearly every trace of Maelrubha's settlement in Applecross has long disappeared.  On the site, now stands Clachan Church.  The small cell to the east of the church belongs to the fifteenth century.

In the earlier part of the last century, the Applecross Estate was the main employer with a full complement of farm workers, dairymaids and cattlemen, shepherds, gamekeepers, gardeners, joiners, housekeepers, support staff, boatmen and fishermen.  Now the Estate employs only a few. Crofting, fishing and tourism are now the main sources of employment for the Applecross population.

applecross historical society

Heritage Centre

The Applecross Historical Society (Comunn Eachdraidh na Comraich), assisted by The Applecross Estate Trust, Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, Highland Council and others refurbished a building to the rear of Clachan Manse as a Heritage Centre.  The opening of the Heritage Centre took place on Good Friday, 18th April, 2003 in idyllic conditions with blue skies and record-breaking temperatures. The centre houses an exhibition where the history of the area from the Mesolithic period to the present day is displayed.

Much of the information given above has been extracted from the excellent booklet "A Glimpse of History" written by Ian Mackenzie, Archivist for the Applecross Historical Society.